Hafemeyer Law

When Does My Child Support End?

I am often asked about when child support ends for a child who turns 18.  The child support statute says that child support ends when the child turns 18 or while the child remains enrolled in secondary school and is under the age of 20.  Put much simpler, the child support obligation ends when your child turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever occurs second.  For example, if your child turns 18 in February, your obligation will end with your payment in June.

If you have more than one child, the support obligation is not automatically modified when the older child turns 18 or graduates high school, however.  Generally, in order to modify a support obligation, the resulting obligation must change $75 and 20% from the current obligation.  In order to modify a support obligation, you must have a new order, which can be through an agreement or following a hearing.

Can I Keep My Car if I File Bankruptcy?

I am often asked by potential bankruptcy clients whether it is possible to keep a vehicle after filing bankruptcy.  The short answer is YES!

If you lease your car, you can either redeem or reject the lease through your filing – either keep the car and the lease OR get rid of both.

If you own your car and do not have a loan, it is your asset.  We can usually protect a vehicle in a bankruptcy, but that exact analysis would need to occur after reviewing all assets.

If you own your car and have a loan, we look at the equity in the vehicle to make sure we can protect that asset.  Since vehicles are depreciating assets, most have little or no equity if there is also a loan.  The loan company may require a reaffirmation agreement for the loan.  You can also choose to return the car and discharge any liability for the loan.

Stepparent’s Rights Following Adoption

Your spouse can adopt your child through stepparent adoption.  You will need the biological parent to voluntarily terminate parental rights, if there is a presumed parent.  If there is no father listed on the birth certificate, no Recognition of Parentage signed, and no order establishing parental rights, you can likely accomplish a stepparent adoption without the consent of the biological parent.

But what rights does this give the biological parent?  Following a stepparent adoption, the biological has no further rights to contact the child unless there is a visitation schedule included in the adoption order.  The biological parent no longer has any obligation to pay child support.

What about the stepparent?  The stepparent is now treated as though the child is biologically the stepparent’s child.  Your child now has inheritance rights to your spouse’s estate in the event of death.  It also means that your spouse has rights to custody and parenting time, and possibly the obligation to pay child support, in the event of a divorce.  You should carefully consider the status of your marriage before allowing your spouse to adopt your child.  The adoption is not “undone” as part of the divorce; your spouse will continue to be the legal parent of your child.

How Long will my Bankruptcy Meeting of Creditors Last?

I appeared at a Meeting of Creditors for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy today.  The Meeting of Creditors is the one hearing attended by the debtors in the process of receiving a discharge of debts.  Our office usually tells our clients to arrive about 15 minutes ahead of the scheduled time in order to watch a few Meetings first to calm the nerves and get an idea of the questions asked by the trustees.

As we watched today, several of the hearings last 10 minutes or more.  It was obvious, even to my first time filing clients, that either the debtors or their attorney had not done a great job in filing the necessary documents.  The trustee had to ask many questions and ask for several different documents to be provided later.

In contrast, my clients’ hearing took about 4 minutes.  We had provided the trustee with all required documents ahead of time by uploading them to the trustee’s preferred document submission site.  We had completely filled out all schedules.  We had not left out any assets.

Clients sometimes wonder why our office is so particular about the documents we request and why we keep asking for more information and more documents until we have everything we think we need.  The answer: so you have a 4 minute, completely non-stressful Meeting of Creditors!

What if I Don’t Have a Will?

Prince’s untimely death and apparent lack of a will should highlight the importance of estate planning for those with a higher-asset estate.  His estate will likely take years to be settled.  Ordinary, non-famous people may wonder whether they need a will too.

If you die without a will, your heirs will be forced to file a probate case to have the Court determine who will inherit from your estate.  This is costly and time-consuming.  The Court will apply applicable statute and determine your heirs and what amount the heirs will receive.  Conflicts among beneficiaries often arises and your ability to express your wishes will be non-existent.

On the other hand, if you have a will and plan properly, it’s possible that your heirs will never have to set foot in a courtroom with respect to your estate.  Regardless of the size of your estate, having a will is a wise move.

Next Page »